RIM have had a hard year in 2011. There were a number of server failures. The BlackBerry PlayBook has had dismal sales. RIM also had to rename their next generation OS version from BBX to BlackBerry 10. And now, their financial value is down over 70% in a year. A bad year indeed.
Mobility blog has a fast-thriving BBM group. Someone asked this question there yesterday: “Does RIM really need the American market to survive?”
The answer, in my opinion, is a No, and I will state why. First take a look at the following:
- There are a number of mobile manufacturers who build exclusively for the Japanese market and are doing fine. One market, yet healthy and profitable.
- Huawei has slugged its way up to the top 5 manufacturers list without being able to win the U.S. market.
- Market advisers have often said that it makes sense to focus on where one has comparative advantage or where you have a ready market.
- Motivational speakers will also tell you to go where you are celebrated. For RIM, that should mean that they focus their most energies elsewhere, if only for now.
RIM Needs To Go Radical – In A Different Way
Here is a saying of mine. For the records, I made it all up, and it reflects my often non-conformist, adventurous and radical nature:
Doing and saying what is popular may indicate a lack of creativity, courage or intelligence. Possibly all.
Every manufacturer is copying the iPhone, though they won’t admit it. In my opinion, they all lack either courage to be different or creative. Possibly both.
Some so lack this creativity that they copy its weaknesses too – hook, line, and sinker! Bummer!
Interesting enough, the iPhone didn’t become so popular by copying anyone. Go figure.
RIM, Stand Out
RIM, stick with your strengths – those great keyboards, that excellent form factor, and your security. But be creative.
For example, provide the option to choose to use a BIS plan or not for internet access on your devices.
By all means stick primarily with QWERTY keyboards. Add a Communicator form factor (side-sliding QWERTY). Keep one full touchscreen range. But let your mainstream devices be those great candy QWERTYs that people so love.
Full touchscreen slabs may be popular, but it doesn’t mean that the QWERTY market is not sustainable. It is! And for now, RIM is king there.
Stand out! Don’t conform!!
Go Where You Are Celebrated
RIM has the strongest following anywhere but the US market and need to wake up to this reality. In the UK, BlackBerry devices are still some of the most desirable smartphones. There’s also the Netherlands, Brazil, and Nigeria, among several others.
RIM needs to focus their energies in these places.
If RIM is waiting for BlackBerry 10 to turn things around for them in the U.S. and in the eyes of the U.S. media, they are probably in for a surprise. On the contrary in the markets where RIM has good mindshare, both users and the media are constantly singing the praise of BlackBerry and talking about how awesome it is. RIM needs to focus on the markets where it needs the least energy to sell.
RIM will continue to sell to their die-hard customers in the U.S. too, but that is not where they are celebrated now.
Africa, South America, Asia
RIM needs to ride on the wave and hype that BlackBerry already has in these regions. The hype is much, though Blackberry devices are not really as popular.
So many people in Nigeria think that Blackberry is the most popular phone in Nigeria right now. Even media houses and tech people (who should know better) help spread this impression though it is very untrue! That’s tremendous market advantage.
Young and mid-age people in several countries across the world are going Blackberry-gaga. That’s where RIM should be looking.
My almost 70-year old dad wants a Blackberry. His business partner has one. Almost every university undergraduate wants one. My kids want one each too.
They know a BlackBerry when they see one. Think about that. I can’t say the same for most other brands.
Come on, guys! Come and ride on this! Get on TV, in newspapers, on blogs, and on buses – and push this thing!
Push it, or go the way of the dinosaurs.
RIM did not achieve its great successes because of the American market. They achieved it when they started selling their BlackBerry phones elsewhere on the planet. That is exactly what they need to keep doing and pushing harder.
If you know anyone in RIM who can pass this article up, please refer them to it. I would hate to have to refer to this article a year from now with regrets.
I rest my case.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.